Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

To Being Every Good Thing There Is In The World

"I Am Every Good Thing" by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James.

Myra here.


I Am Every Good Thing [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Derrick Barnes Illustrated by Gordon C. James
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2020)
ISBN: 0525518770 (ISBN13: 9780525518778). Borrowed from NLB Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

As the title already suggests, this book is a celebration of “every good thing” our children are. I find the book cover to be especially riveting, with this beautiful black boy, his legs apart in a confident stance, arms kept to himself, looking down on the reader, as opposed to looking up, elevating him to a position of power.

The entire narrative is bounding with confidence, self-assurance, and affirmation of one’s spirit, especially in the first few pages. There is clear rhythm and a resounding beat to the words that ring true. This exuberance is matched by the bright colours, the joyful smiles, the constant movement and propensity for flight, always up, up, and up.

Yet, there is also a grounded recognition that life isn’t always kind, and there is cause to be afraid, “every now and then.” As the image above says: “I am not what they might call me, and I will not answer to any name that is not my own. I am what I say I am.”

In the Dedication Page, the author indicated that he wrote the book for Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, EJ Bradford, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, and Julian Mallory. While the entire declaration here may be perceived as a political statement, it felt deeply personal, and never heavy-handed. It is brimming with positivity, without glossing over the bad stuff that makes the good come out, all sweet and gooey.

I read this book aloud to my PhD class taking up my higher degree course on Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with the message that as educators, we must also begin seeing ourselves as every good thing in this world. We are change makers and do-gooders, and we need to convey that same message to all the young people under our care. This is a beautiful book. I predict that it will win all them awards next year.


#ReadIntl2020 Update: Both author and illustrator are POC.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “To Being Every Good Thing There Is In The World

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful book. I definitely want to read it myself and may give it as a gift this holiday season. I love the title: I am every good thing–and the illustrations and poems that you shared.

    Liked by 1 person

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